Mission and Vision
Mission: Connecting people through art. Tacoma Art Museum serves the diverse communities of the Northwest through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists of the Northwest and the broader western region.
Vision: To be a national model for regional museums by creating a dynamic museum that engages, inspires, and builds community through art.
About Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) is an anchor in the city’s downtown area and a gathering place for connecting people through art via thoughtful exhibitions, exciting events, and enriching programs.
The museum’s collection of more than 5,000 works emphasizes the art and artists of the Northwest and broader western region. Highlights of the collection include:
- the largest retrospective museum collection of glass art by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly on continued view;
- the largest collection of studio art jewelry by Northwest artists;
- the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art, one of the nation’s premier western American art collections, with approximately 300 works spanning 200 years. The Haub Family Collection is the first major museum collection of western American art in the Pacific Northwest region;
- over 120 works from the Washington Art Consortium’s Safeco/Liberty Mutual Collection of Northwest art;
- key holdings in 19th century European and 20th century American art;
- one of the finest collections of Japanese woodblock prints on the West Coast; and
- the Benaroya Collection of 225 works including studio art glass, paintings, and sculptures.
Named by USA Today as one of the “Top 10 Great Places to See Art in Smaller Cities,” the museum has developed a national reputation for presenting art in a thought-provoking yet accessible manner, with a strong commitment to Northwest art through its acquisition and exhibition programs. In addition to dynamic exhibitions, nationally touring shows, and historical retrospectives, TAM serves the diverse communities of the region through innovative programming and learning opportunities for all ages, including free community events.
TAM is located in Tacoma’s Museum District, near the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, Children’s Museum of Tacoma, and historic Union Station.
Tacoma Art Museum was founded by a group of volunteers (the Tacoma Art Association) in 1935. It has outgrown five exhibition spaces, and has become a national model for regional, mid-sized museums.
TAM’s exhibition history is impressive and wide ranging. In addition to ongoing exhibitions featuring the art and artists of the Northwest and broader western region, TAM’s history includes exhibitions of medieval illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance bronze sculptures, French impressionist paintings, German expressionist prints, 19th- and early 20th-century paintings of the American Southwest, avant-garde art from the final years of the Soviet Union, the prints, paintings, and ceramics of Pablo Picasso, and much more.
Tacoma Art Museum opened at its current location on May 3, 2003, when it moved from a former bank building that was built in 1920. Designed by Antoine Predock and nearly twice the size of its previous location, the $22-million structure allowed TAM to exhibit far more of its permanent collection. In designing the building, Predock drew inspiration from the region’s light, its relationship to the water, the neighborhood’s industrial history and character, Mount Rainier, the Thea Foss Waterway, and the surrounding structures in what is now known as the Museum District.
In November 2014 the museum opened the first exhibition from the generous donation of the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art in the new Haub Family Galleries. This is the first great private collection of western American art to become public in many years, and the first to be located in the Northwest; many of the works have never before been on public view. The collection contains an extraordinary breadth of masterworks dating from the 1790s to the present, with iconic American artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, and Georgia O’Keeffe, alongside contemporary artists including Bill Schenck and Kevin Red Star. This collection establishes Tacoma Art Museum as the only major museum of western American art of this caliber in the Northwest.
The new Haub Family Galleries doubled TAM’s exhibition space. The wing was designed by Olson Kundig Architects and added approximately 16,000 square feet. Tom Kundig’s design references railroad boxcars, Native American long houses, and the barn structures of the rural Northwest to reflect the history of the museum’s particular location in Tacoma. Works from the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art are regularly on view as part of exhibitions which explore the rich and complex cultural and social contexts of the greater western region.
Another significant gift announced on January 14, 2016 is the gift of the Rebecca and Jack Benaroya Collection. The Benaroyas carefully assembled over their 70 years of marriage a collection that includes Northwestern and international studio art glass along with important paintings and sculptures by renowned regional artists. The gift, announced on Mrs. Benaroya’s 93rd birthday, includes a contribution for the construction of a new 7,390 square-foot gallery addition in which to present the collection. The new wing, designed by award-winning architect Tom Kundig of Seattle-based Olson Kundig, opened in January 2019.
It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Tacoma Art Museum family!